My Routine Essentials
I am a creature of habit, and that trait carries over into my workout and nutrition routines. I have my go-to playlists, strength training workouts, post-run breakfasts (and lunch and snacks!) and interval runs. This makes it easy to plan my workouts for the week and grocery shopping isn’t as much of a free-for-all when I know what basic items I need to stock up on. While everyone is different and I wouldn’t suggest doing what I do unless it aligns with your goals and makes sense to your lifestyle, I wanted to share what is typical of me!
I do a full-body strength training session at my gym or in my living room using my Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells twice a week, sometimes 3 (although that third day is usually a timed circuit session; 10 exercises, :60/ea, 4 rounds with exercises changing each week to mix it up).
I don’t do the exact same workout each time, but follow a rough format, upping the weight or using a progression of the exercise to keep challenging my body:
Upper body pull (ex: lat pulldown, seated row, inverted row, etc)
Hip hinge variation (ex: Deadlift, single leg deadlift, glute bridges, hip thrusts)
Upper body push (ex: Chest press, chest fly dumbbells or cable, push ups)
8-12 reps depending on weight, 3 rounds
Squat/lunge variation (ex: walking lunges, step ups, goblet squats)
Upper body vertical push/pull (ex: dumbbell shoulder press, front raise, lat raise)
Core (ex: plank variation, anti-rotation, wood choppers, etc)
8-12 reps, 3 rounds
Accessory lift (ex: Tricep dips, curls, reverse flys)
Hip Abduction (ex: Side-lying hip raises, clams, cable abduction, fire-hydrant)
10-20 reps using lighter weight, 2 rounds
The bulk of my cardio is running where – unless I’m training for a specific race – I plug in the following types of runs:
1 long run
1-2 interval runs (ex: timed, 400m-800m-1600m repeats, fartlek)
2 steady state runs between 3-6 miles where I run by feel (sometimes this turns into a tempo run if I’m feeling good)
Often I’ll squeeze in a 15 minute HIIT session either on the elliptical or bodyweight Tabata
Food is Fuel
Once I find something I love that aligns with my goals (good mix of protein, carbs and healthy fats), I basically eat it everyday until I get sick of it. Oatmeal has been a staple in my diet since college and I have mastered the mix-ins to have variety and don’t have to rely on instant packets. It’s perfect for after a morning workout session with enough carbs to satisfy my hunger and the high protein helps my muscles repair the damage of a long run or heavy sets in the weight room. A scoop of protein powder and/or peanut butter is almost standard after a tough workout. I’ve been known to eat it for dinner when left to my own devices!
The other meal I make nearly every day is a fried egg sandwich; 1 pan-fried egg, spinach, tomato, slice of deli meat, cheese, hummus and stone ground mustard on a toasted whole grain slice of bread or English muffin. Protein, carbs and healthy fats are all there and all delicious!
For the times I’m not ready for a full meal or am on the run, I rely on two things; string cheese and some type of protein bar. My favorites are: Kind, Larabar, and ThinkThin (high protein). I look for 180-240 calories, low in added sugar, saturated fat and high in protein.
My main concern after a workout is getting a mix of protein (highest priority), healthy fats and carbs to replenish glucose levels and aid in muscle repair and growth. Even if I’m not particularly hungry, I try to have a handful of nuts or a string cheese within an hour of a tough workout.
On morning runs when I need to be more alert due to darkness or safety concerns and in races, I run without entertainment. It’s my time to wakeup, listen to my breathing and footsteps and truly take in the moment. On the treadmill or solo daytime runs I need music! I listen to Pandora and use different channels depending on the run.
For Treadmill or interval runs I need something fast to keep me motivated and at a fast pace: Alternative Endurance Training, my self-created Cage The Elephant Radio, and sometimes Pop and Hip Hop Power Workout radio.
For 3-5 mile runs I typically listen to Pandora but will pick a slower station since I’m distracted by the scenery and my thoughts and don’t need as much to keep me going. For long runs I listen to two podcasts; Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and Nia Shanks’s Lift Like A Girl. During marathon training I will listen to 3 episodes and end with music!
Aside from a post-workout protein fix, I use a foam roller and The Stick which are great for self myofascial release, releasing the myofascial connective tissues and loosening muscles to improve blood and lymphatic circulation.
Sleep! Getting at least 7 hours of sleep has improved my quality of life. It’s much easier to get up and working out on 7 1/2 hours vs. 6 hours of sleep is heaven. I look forward to going to bed and not because I’m exhausted, I just know how much better I’ll feel the next morning. Your body resets, restores and recovers as you sleep. Look at sleep as an extension of your training.
Like I said, what works for me may not work for you. And, what works for me now may not work for my lifestyle a year from now. My overarching goal is to enjoy my workouts. I want them to empower my life, not rule it. I also want to be able to go for a run in my 70s+ and by taking care of myself now, I have a better chance of that happening!